People who know me well know my belief about being connected to the English land and language in my previous life. It is this exact belief that led me into believing that there is no way I would hate London - the first stop of our Europe Travel. Years ago, I read a poem in our Gulmohar graded English text named "Upon the Westminster Bridge"
Wordsworth opined that the Earth had nothing else better than the view from the Westminster Bridge to show. So as an eleven year old, I was determined to see the fairest view of all, in a way heart fully agreeing with Mr. Wordsworth and believing in what he said though I didn't see an opportunity to see beyond the outskirts of our little town, let alone the continent. But years later, I actually migrated to another continent, albiet a different one than I aspired to see and called it my home. Anyway, it comes to us naturally - and we erase boundaries, overcome territories and make a mark of our own without ever worrying if where we are is where we actually belong. And thus, we weave a strong bond with our adopted Nationalities. I met one such woman as I set my foot on the land of "Great Britain" - a stocky middle aged woman dressed in a formal suit a bit too long for her short frame. Her thinning hair was pulled back into a limp ponytail and she wore her face as badly as she wore her dress and attitude. From the side, I could not for the life of me figure out who she was - if she was a man or a woman or a passenger or an airport personnel. As I looked around for a pen to fill my customs papers in the UK port of entry, the woman approached me - talking to me in an almost disconnected way. Her accent was thick and sounded more like a regional Indian tongue than Queen's English. "Yesterday only I put pens in all these places" she mumbled. "Greedy people. They come to this country thinking all is free here" I opened my mouth in an attempt to say something like "nothing is free" but gave up since I quickly realised the futility of agreeing or disagreeing with her. " I work only part time", she went on, "last week a person committed suicide since there are no jobs here - I don't know why people come to our country and take away all the jobs" - By now, I was looking or pretending to look into the customs form. She didn't leave me alone. For some strange reason, she thought I was there to snatch away her job. I tried, rather proudly, to flash my US passport to her. She was probably naive enough not to understand that I call another land of opportunity my own and am not in the least interested in encroaching hers. Irony people - Irony. One brown skinned person to another in a land that belongs to neither - and all the natives walked past me without even caring to give me a dirty look or an appraisal if I am a potential "opportunity snatcher"
So, long story short, my fellow Indian had the audacity to indirectly call my tribe (and hers funnily enough) greedy and encroaching. With a broad grin and a mind that mentally jotted down the conversation, I left the place, striding safely away form the tortured old woman.
The Airport looked surprisingly similar and the city, even more. It reminded me of my favourite - amchi Mumbai - not amchi per say, but if London could be amchi to a seemingly new immigrant working in the Airport, Mumbai, a part of my motherland could most certainly be Amchi. So, London and its resemblances to Amchi Mumbai is mind boggling. As our shuttle lumbered through the paths of the royal city, I looked around to spot individual homes just like I'd do in Mumbai - and just like I'd do in Mumbai, I didn't find any of those here as well.
London was pretty ordinary - The roads were cramped and dirty. In the afternoon as we ventured out to find a place to eat, I almost stepped on dog droppings - eeks, I know - but I am not sure if the Amchi London brigade is responsible for the droppings, or the non cleaning of droppings after dogs rather. I was already falling out of love of London. May be the country side will stir my soul - I wondered, not willing to drop the 'previous birth connection' theory with the land of cricket.
I skipped my half day city excursion and cuddled up in the cozy blanket with the Twilight series, courtesy Holiday Inn, and let Wordsworth be a wordsmith, or a confirmed Patriot, or may be, I should give him the benefit of doubt. He is generation "A" and gen X need not necessarily agree with him:-))
Notwithstanding the ordinariness or the eerily familiar layout, London still remains to be the heart of the land of Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and J K Rowling, and if nothing else, the way the language sounds form the mouth of a inhabitant is worth the price of admission. Long Live London, Long Live Love and Long Live the London Love.
More random ponders to come:-)